Manuel Sulzer/Getty Images

With theplummeting price of solar cellsin the past decade, you can now buy在线廉价便携式太阳能电池板or at many big-box home-improvement centers. Many foldable solar panels can be bought at roughly $1.00-$2.00 per watt—about half what it would安装太阳能电池板的成本on your roof. But are they worth it? Let's find out.

How Portable Solar Panels Work

Unlike a solar panel that you might place on your roof, which is set in a fixed, rigid frame and sealed under glass, a typical portable panel is usually encased in a protective sleeve made of mesh fabric or plastic. Small, inexpensive (under $50) panels will generate 5 to 50 watts, while larger ones can generate 300 watts or more—the same as an average rooftop solar panel. Smaller panels are often a single sheet of silicon solar cells, while larger panels might have two or three panels in a foldable case.


While the output of some of the larger panels can be equivalent to a regular rooftop solar panel, portable panels are not meant to replace rooftop ones. By design, they lack the structural integrity and voltage regulation of a properly installed rooftop solar system.

On the other hand, setting up a portable solar panel takes minutes, needs no permits or inspections, and there's no worry about damaging your roof.

All solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are made of crystalline silicon wafers that absorb sunlight. The light (photons) from the sun knocks electrons loose from the silicon material, creating a current along the electrical conductors in the cells (thus the term “photovoltaic”). The current flows in one direction—direct current, or DC—out from the cells, either directly into a device that accepts DC electricity (such as a battery) or indirectly through an inverter to create alternating current (AC) for most household uses.


Because these panels are portable, they are often used by campers, travelers, or anyone who needs a supply of electricity when unable to access grid electricity. But because they come in so many different sizes and costs, there are a variety of other uses as well.


Read the manual carefully, and only use the solar panel with approved devices. Depending on the capabilities of the solar panel or solar-powered battery, you may not be able to power electronic devices, household appliances, delicate medical equipment, or electric vehicle batteries, which require voltage waveforms that are less variable than the output from a solar panel or battery.




野营and hiking are perhaps the most common uses of portable solar panels. You can fasten larger panels to the top of your van or RV to provide an alternative to a portable generator. Unlike a noisy, smelly generator burning fossil fuels, a battery charged by solar panels is clean, quiet, and odorless. Since even the larger panels are portable, you can place them in the sun while your tent, camper, or RV stays cool in the shade.

If you're on a week-long hiking trip into the back country and want to keep your phone charged for GPS or emergency purposes, a small solar panel that slips into your backpack can keep you in contact with civilization. Larger panels can weigh 25 pounds or more, so they are better suited for car camping than hiking the entire length of the Appalachian Trail.


Place solar panels on the deck or other flat surface of your boat and you can run an electric motor with the power stored in a battery. The panel can also act as a canopy to protect you from the sun when you are out at sea. When paired with a solar battery, solar panels allow you to sail without the the need for wind or the noise and smell of a gas-powered motor. And as long as the sun shines, you can sail nearly infinitely without needing to make refueling stops.

Special portable marine solar panels are available forsolar boating,由于它们需要承受腐蚀性的盐水和凶猛的天气状况,而不是露营者可能会经历的。



Apartment Living

If you live in an apartment and your landlord isn't willing to install solar panels on the roof, you can either consider acommunity solar farm或建立便携式太阳能电池板在阳台上通用电气nerate your own electricity. When you move out, you can take your panels with you.

Power Outages

If you work from home and your power goes out, your modem and router go out as well, so if you don't have access to a wifi hotspot, you have no access to the Internet. With a solar-charged battery backup, however, you can continue to run your modem, router, and laptop until the power comes back on. There are also portable solar panels that are designed specifically assolar laptop chargers。根据电池的大小,您也许还可以运行一个宿舍大小的冰箱,以防止食物或药物变质。

Think Outside the House

A fountain in a bird feeder powered by a small solar panel.

krblokhin/Getty Images

You can keep an outdoor structure such as a greenhouse or hot tub warm, light up a patio or backyard play area, run the pump on a fountain or bird bath, or power outdoor holiday decorations without having to run electricity from your home.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint



When shopping for portable solar panels, here's what to look for. Treehugger has reviewed some ofthe best of them.


If space or weight is a concern, such as in backpacking, compare the efficiency of various solar panels. Theefficiency of a solar panel通过将阳光转化为电力的能力来衡量。效率超过20%的面板是高质量的产品。一个更有效的面板需要更少的空间才能产生与较大,效率较低的电量相同的电力,但价格可能更高。如果不关心空间或重量,请不要将您的钱浪费在高效的面板上,如果较低的成本,效率较低的面板将完成工作。

Buy What You Need, Not What You Want

Know what you'll need and don't buy more than that. You can calculate how much energy you need with a简单的能量计算器它告诉您不同的电器使用了多少瓦。检查任何小工具的电压要求。例如,大多数笔记本电脑都需要19伏的恒定功率。


A watt is a unit of power. It measures how much energy a device will consume or produce at a single moment in time. You'll need a solar panel (or battery) that can produce 100 watts to light up two 50-watt light bulbs.

A watt-hour is a measure of how much energy is used over the course of an hour. If you want to keep your two 50-watt light bulbs lit for 10 hours, you'll need a solar panel (or more likely a battery) that can produce 1,000 watt-hours, or 1 kilowatt hour (kWh). There's not necessarily a one-to-one correspondence between the watts and the number of watt-hours that a device can output. For example, the 2000-watt Goal Zero Yeti solar-powered generator can deliver 1500 watt-hours.


Even with a solar-charged battery, a portable solar panel cannot produce enough electricity to meet the demands of an American household, which uses onaverage 30 kWh(或每天30,000瓦)的电力,大多数真正的便携式电池发生器也无法产生足够的电源来运行全尺寸冰箱或热泵。为此,您需要一个家用电池存储系统



Other Considerations


How often will you use it? Will it save you money over the alternative? Given the wide variety in size, capacity, and cost of all the different portable solar panels on the market today, you'll probably be able to find a good use case for one.